Brotherly advice wins out

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My brother Andrew is two years older than me, but he was three grade levels ahead because I repeated 4K.

He finished two years of college before deciding he felt called to be a priest. He made the decision to continue that discernment process by entering the seminary. So as I began my senior year of high school, he started seminary.

My parents and I had some indication this might be the right direction for him, so it wasn’t a total shock. But he was dating someone at the time, so he had to break that off.

I was very proud of my brother. Proud of him for taking such a big leap and giving himself a chance to see if this was the right path. I was proud of him for going through formation and receiving a proper education, more relevant for priestly responsibilities than what he would receive at a public university.

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View from behind the microphone

church-pulpit

Along with participating in the high ropes course, a major aspect of my experience with LifeTeen and the youth group was pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone. This happened on a regular basis during 11th and 12th grades through lectoring at Mass.

One of the adult leaders made the rounds among the teens one night seeking recruits to be readers. I got guilted into signing up. Not because my friends jumped up to agree and I risked being left out. That wasn’t it at all. Hardly anyone stepped forward, and for some reason I felt responsible to fill in since no one else did. The people pleaser in me couldn’t resist the request from an adult. Or maybe it actually indicates some degree of leadership skills, taking on an undesirable task instead of waiting for someone else to do it.

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Seeing yourself through eyes of faith

Part of what forms your self-esteem and self-confidence is knowing who you are. I had images of a wallflower who was unsure of what to say, convinced everyone else’s opinions were more important, images of a clumsy kid who didn’t need any help tripping over her own feet. While to some degree I was shy and quiet, there was so much more going on beneath the surface. Things that I couldn’t quite put my finger on to explain. (I’ve illustrated some of that here.)

What I’ve come to understand, though, is that the true strength of knowing who you are is in your relationship with God and Jesus, in your faith. It’s through faith that you really achieve a true, complete sense of self. The flaws, talents, insecurities etc. are put into more proper perspective.

Not that I completely knew it at the time, and certainly not during eighth grade. I knew God and faith were important. I knew prayer was important. There were reminders for me all over the house. We had multiple crucifixes throughout the house, and I had one in my room near my bed. I even had a small plastic statue of St. Joseph that glowed in the dark. There were other devotionals, tools and images of our faith in different rooms.

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